Picking Up The Spare: Nine Pin Cider Works Signature Blend

Cider is such a difficult beast. The vast majority of them are too sweet and tasted like a jug of Mott’s gone bad. If you split the rest in half, you get some where the cidery has added too much extra stuff (think chocolate or pineapple), and some that are merely good. It’s so tough to find a cidery that knocks it out of the park.

My preference has been imported cider, but I’ve gone on at length about Strongbow’s decision to ruin its product, and though I like Magner’s, it’s a tough all-evening drink. Apparently, I need to try the imported ciders from France and the one made by Samuel Smith. Why can’t any domestic cideries get it right? Why is Crispin the best nationally distributed domestic label? Why can’t Woodchuck do better? Why am I getting worked up about all of this?

New York has some great cideries, and I’m overdue for a Harvest Moon review, but for now we’re going to turn our eyes to Albany. Yes, our state capital, where laws are passed and… yeah, I don’t know that much about Albany. I saw Eric Clapton there in 2001, if that counts for anything. That was the trip where our hotel was so awful that The Wife and I had to get drunk in order to convince ourselves to sleep there. We got up at 5:30 a.m., hungover, and drove home. Great concert, though.

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Where was I?

Nine Pin Cider Works is located in the state capital (but not the state capitol, for you grammarians) and they appear to take their craft seriously. The Nine Pin process starts at the local orchards, which press their fruit and provide the juice for the cider. No concentrates or wholesale apple purchases. Everything is fermented and aged at the cidery before the finished product as kegged or bottled. It makes 17 different varieties, including their green-labeled Signature Blend. 

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The Signature Blend is what you would expect from a dry, but not brut) cider. Crisp without the tart or sweet flavors common in cider. If anything, I think it has a more sour character than anything. Clean and light in body, but with a full, natural apple flavor.You can tell that not a lot goes into this cider but quality apple juice and some champagne yeast to dry things out, and form the body.

Nine Pin certainly fills the dry cider void, but that doesn’t mean my quest for dry cider is over. It’s just getting started.

Brewer: Nine Pin Cider Works
Beer: Signature Blend (green label)
Style: Hard cider
ABV: 6.7%   IBU: n/a
Container: 22 oz. bottle
Price: $7.99   Point of Purchase: Party Source, Syracuse, N.Y.
To The Eye: Golden and clear with no fizz. The carbonation sends a steady, but light, stream of bubbles to the top throughout.
To The Nose: Typical cider smell but without the syrupy sweetness.
To The Palate: Dry all the way through. Carbonation is present but stays in the background. A little bit of acidity from the apples, and a sourness from the yeast.
Aftertaste: Dry, crisp and clean.
Boozy Factor: Surprising. It doesn’t feel or taste like a 6.7% cider.
On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as highest: 8

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